Excitement builds as knockout phase startsArticle
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LAST 16 PREVIEW: The EHF European League Men heads into its business end with the first leg of the Last 16 on Tuesday
»2020-21 Men's News

The inaugural season of the EHF European League Men is approaching the knockout phase. The first leg of the Last 16 on Tuesday opens the battle for quarter-final tickets.

All four group winners – three German sides and ORLEN Wisla Plock – start with away matches. While Füchse Berlin and Rhein-Neckar Löwen seem in the role of favourites, SC Magdeburg (at HC Eurofarm Pelister) and Plock (at Sporting CP) face tough nuts to crack.

Elsewhere, USAM Nimes Gard eye their first European quarter-final in 20 years when taking on Chekhovskie medvedi, while the other French side in the Last 16, Montpellier HB, travel to Kadetten Schaffhausen.

Also, GOG and HC CSKA face each other in a hard-to-predict tie.

The match between IFK Kristianstad and Abanca Ademar Leon has been postponed.


Chekhovskie Medvedi (RUS) vs USAM Nimes Gard (FRA)
Tuesday 23 March, 17:00 CET, live on EHFTV

  • the two teams have not played against each other before in European competitions
  • Nimes finished second in group B with five wins from 10 games, while Chekhov finished third in group A with seven wins
  • during the group phase, Nimes won two away matches - against Sporting (30:26) and Presov (28:22) - and also had two draws - in Berlin and Kristianstad
  • on their home court, Chekhov suffered two defeats this season, both times by a single goal: against Leon (35:34) and Plock (28:27)
  • before the start of the Last 16, Chekhov led the Russia Super League while Nimes were ranked sixth in the French Lidl Starligue

Tuesday 23 March, 18:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • this is the first encounter between the teams
  • CSKA head coach Velimir Petkovic won the EHF Cup three times, each time with a team from Germany: twice with Göppingen and once with Berlin
  • the Russian team’s debutant season has been successful so far - they took seven wins and had three defeats to finish second in group C
  • CSKA are battling with Chekhov and Neva for the lead in the Russian league
  • the Danish team is a mixture of young guns like WCh All-star Mathias Gidsel and top scorer Emil Jacobsen (89 goals) with several experienced players

RK Nexe (CRO) - Rhein-Neckar Löwen (GER)
Tuesday 23 March, 18: 45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • the two sides have not met before in an official match
  • Nexe had a good test prior to this Last 16 tie, beating two-time EHF Champions League winners Vardar in the SEHA League
  • since Branko Tamse took over as head coach of Nexe in January 2021, the Croatian side have won six of their seven matches
  • Nexe, nicknamed the ‘Thunders from Krndija hill’, played against a German team in the quarter-final of the EHF Cup 2017/18: they lost by one goal to Fuchse Berlin
  • Löwen will miss Ilija Abutovic, who is out for the season due to injury

Montpellier HB (FRA) vs Kadetten Schaffhausen (SWI)
Tuesday 23 March, 18:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • Montpellier finished third in group C with six wins out of 10 games, while Kadetten ranked second in group D, also with six wins, and two draws
  • Montpellier and Kadetten met once before - in the EHF Champions League 2010/11 Last 16, when both sides won their home leg and Montpellier advanced with a 61:58 aggregate win
  • Kadetten returned home empty-handed only once from four away games in the group phase, as they drew with Löwen and Pelister and won in Tatabanya
  • only one team defeated Montpellier at home in the group phase - Magdeburg (32:30) - as the French side won the other four home games
  • going into the Last 16, both teams are ranked second in their respective domestic league in France and Switzerland

Sporting CP (POR) vs ORLEN Wisla Plock (POL)
Tuesday 23 March, 20:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • Frankis Carol has left the Portuguese team mid-season to continue his career in Qatar; Pedro Valdes has taken over from him as the team captain
  • Plock dominated group A with eight wins; only SC Magdeburg in group C managed more wins: nine
  • Sporting’s Spanish centre back Carlos Ruesga will face a team with a Spanish coach - Xavier Sabate - and four Spanish players in the squad
  • seven-time Polish champions Wisla Plock are ranked third in their domestic league
  • Sporting are placed second in the Portuguese league and remain in the race for their 22nd national championship

Fivers (AUT) vs Füchse Berlin (GER)
Tuesday 23 February, 20:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • Fivers became the first Austrian side to win a match in the group phase of an EHF competition since 13 years
  • Fivers played a German team once before in an official competition: they lost twice against Göppingen (37:31, 34:27) in round 3 of the EHF Cup 2005/06
  • Füchse have not played against an Austrian team before in an EHF competition
  • Fivers’ rising star and top scorer Lukas Hutecek (65 goals) will transfer to Germany in the summer of 2021, joining former EHF Cup winners TBV Lemgo
  • Fivers are one of two teams in the Last 16, alongside CSKA, who have come all the way from qualification round 1

HC Eurofarm Pelister (MKD) vs SC Magdeburg (GER)
Tuesday 23 February, 20:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • Magdeburg won the previous second-tier competition, the EHF Cup, three times (1999, 2002, 2007) and played at the EHF Cup Finals in 2017 and 2018
  • in the group phase, Pelister lost away to another German side, Rhein-Neckar Löwen, and was awarded two points for the reverse fixture that was called off
  • Pelister’s top shooter Stipe Mandalinic (49 goals) previously played in Germany, for Füchse Berlin, before joining his current club in the summer of 2020
  • Mandalinic will face his Croatian national teammate Zeljko Musa, who was coached by Pelister coach Zeljko Babic when he led the national team
  • Magdeburg last played a Macedonian team in the EHF Cup 2012/13 qualification, winning 56:55 on aggregate against eventual two-time CL winners Vardar

TEXT: EHF / Danijela Lemaic, Kevin Domas, Tiago Nogueira, Björn Pazen